By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
On November 5, Portugal’s parliament once again passed a bill to legalize euthanasia. This is the second euthanasia bill, this year, to be passed by Portugal’s parliament.
On January 29, Portugal’s parliament passed its first euthanasia bill, but the language of the bill was very imprecise.
On February 19, President Marcelo de Sousa decided not to sign the bill into law but instead he referred the bill to the Constitutional court for evaluation. President de Sousa stated that he thought that the bill was: “excessively imprecise,” potentially creating a situation of “legal uncertainty.”
On March 15, Portugal’s Constitutional Court rejected the euthanasia bill. The Portuguese American Journal reported that the Constitutional court decided “the law is imprecise in identifying the circumstances under which those procedures can occur.” The court stated the law must be “clear, precise, clearly envisioned and controllable.” The law lacks the “indispensable rigor.”
According to POLITICO.eu, “President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa could impose a veto, forcing a further parliamentary review, or send the bill back to the Constitutional Court for further evaluation.”
Please send a message to President de Sousa, urging him to refer the euthanasia bill to the Constitutional court.
DW.com reported that the new bill changed the language of the bill to fulfill the requirements of the Constitutional Court. DW.com reported:
The rephrasing of the bill clarified the “imprecise” definition for when euthanasia would be possible after the Constitutional Court found that the bill’s previous reference to “a definitive injury of extreme seriousness in accordance with scientific consensus” lacked “indispensable rigor.”
The new version of the bill, which passed Friday, said euthanasia could be possible in cases of “serious injury, definitive and amply disabling, which makes a person dependent on others or on technology to undertake elementary tasks of daily life,” and where there is “very high certainty or probability that such limitations endure over time without the possibility of cure or significant improvement.”
Clearly, this new bill focuses on euthanasia for people with disabilities.
In July, 2020 I reported that the Portuguese Medical Association, that opposes euthanasia, informed the government that they will not permit doctors to participate on the euthanasia commission (the commission to approve euthanasia). At the same time, a group of 15 law professors, including Professor Jorge Miranda, known as the father of Portugal’s Constitution, stated that the euthanasia bills are unconstitutional.
According to DW.com, Portugal’s parliament was criticised for passing a euthanasia bill while not being able to pass its budget. Since Portugal’s parliament is unable to pass its budget, the government will have an election in January.
Portugal needs to care for and not kill its citizens.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.